An appeals court Wednesday upheld the conviction of a former Desert Hot Springs man serving a nearly 50-year prison sentence for sustained incidents of domestic violence against his wife, though the lower court will have to decide whether or not to strike a five-year sentence enhancement imposed against him for a prior felony conviction.
Marshall Eddie Jones Jr., 51, was convicted in December 2016 of a dozen felonies, including mayhem, assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence, and dissuading a witness for physically abusing his girlfriend of three years and causing serious injuries that required her to be hospitalized. The couple later married.
The abuse was uncovered when Jones and the woman, identified only as Jane Doe in court documents, went to a local shopping center in January 2016 and she was able to get the attention of a bystander and ask for help.
Doe suffered from abuse that included strangulation, stab wounds from a pocketknife, pistol whippings, cigarette and pipe burns, and beatings from a wooden stick and leather belt. She was hospitalized with a litany of injuries, including broken bones, a displaced retina, an embolism in her cheek, and burns and bruising throughout her body, according to court documents.
Jones was arrested at his home later that day following a nearly three-hour standoff with police. He was released on bail three days later.
Following Jones’ release from jail and Doe’s discharge from the hospital, the couple married, and the abuse continued.
In addition, Jones instructed Doe to make phone calls and write letters to investigators, prosecutors and others indicating that she fabricated her prior claims of abuse. She maintained that a man named “Avril Black” had assaulted her and not Jones, which prosecutors alleged she said under threats of violence.
One day before Jones was due back in court, Desert Hot Springs police were called to Desert Regional Medical Center, where the victim was hospitalized again, this time with multiple injuries suffered in the month since her husband’s release.
Jones was taken into custody on a felony arrest warrant in March during a traffic stop in Desert Hot Springs.
While the appeals court upheld Jones’ conviction, recently enacted Senate Bill 1393 holds that judges can exercise discretion on whether or not to apply a five-year sentencing enhancement for prior convictions. The enhancement was a mandatory enhancement prior to Jan. 1. Court documents show that Jones had a prior robbery conviction from 2005.
Though SB 1393 does not apply retroactively, the appeals court held that because his case was not yet final when the law went into effect this year, the lower court can waive the extra five-year term.
However, the appeals panel wrote “We emphasize that in resentencing defendant, the court may exercise the full range of its sentencing discretion. We offer no opinion on how the court should exercise that discretion.”